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Medford School Committee seeks $13.8m science lab project

Posted by Kathy McCabe  August 14, 2012 10:00 AM

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The Medford School Committee on Monday chose two options to build new science labs at Medford High School that will be paid for partly with federal stimulus dollars.

Each plan would cost $13.8 million, and just under 60 percent of the cost would be reimbursed by the Massachusetts School Building Authority. Each plan calls for building eight new labs, renovating nine existing labs, and putting a new roof on the 42,000 square foot lab area, located on the third floor of the high school. But only one plan would also renovate windows, according to an outline of options.

"This is a great opportunity to improve our lab space and our educational offerings," Mayor Michael J. McGlynn, the School Committee chairman, said after Monday night's vote. "It's important that we lock in the [reimbursement)] rate."

The committee's choices now will be sent to the City Council, which would have to vote to bond the full $13.8 million cost of the project. The city's share of the cost would be either $5.4 million or $5.6 million, depending on the plan chosen.

But first a feasibility study must be submitted to the School Building Authority by November.

"We're working on a very tight time frame," said School Superintendent Roy Belson. "This would be the most significant educational investment" for the foreseeable future.

Medford is one of 10 school districts statewide chosen to submit a proposal for the $60 million Science Laboratory Initiative, made possible with funds from the 2009 stimulus bill. The state has set an aggressive goal to complete the projects by 2013. Most projects must still be approved by the MSBA.

The City Council, which is not due to meet again until Sept. 18, will likely have to hold a special meeting to consider the bonding request. "We are giving the council options," McGlynn said. "This [reimbursement] is an opportunity to give us free money. I personally think its appropriate to move forward."

Kathy McCabe can be reached at kmccabe@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.


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